June 26th, 2015 was an important day in the history of the United States. The Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional for same-sex marriages to be illegal and that same-sex marriages in one state must be recognized in all other states as well. Want some more information about this momentous occasion and want to hear my thoughts? Read on!
Just a disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on anything that I will be discussing in this post. I tried my best to do as much research as possible while writing this post, and I hope that all of my information is valid and accurate. I do not want to be persecuted for misinterpretation of information or for my opinion on the matter. If you have any comments please keep them polite, even if they disagree with my position.
Some background information
The Supreme Court was hearing a case known as Obergefell v. Hodges. James Obergefell had been in a relationship with his partner John Arthur and Arthur was terminally ill with ALS. The two went to Maryland, a state that allowed same-sex marriages, to be lawfully married. After Arthur’s passing, Obergefell wanted his legal marriage to be recognized in his home state of Ohio so that he could be put as the surviving spouse on his partner’s death certificate. However, the state of Ohio said no and that is how this all began. After a court case in the state that was ruled against Obergefell, the case was taken to the Supreme Court. The SCOTUS ruled (in a 5-4 decision) that the 14th Amendment requires all states to recognize and allow same-sex marriages.
For those who don’t know (and I was one of them), this is what section one of the Fourteenth Amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Why is this important?
First of all, this is a huge step in civil rights and equality in the United States. However, there is more to this than just allowing individuals who are gay to have the same right of marriage as others.
What is often unknown or unrecognized is that a legal marriage (through the government) comes with a lot of benefits.
- Tax benefits: Married couples can file joint income tax returns
- Estate benefits: Married couples can inherit part of their spouses estate and create certain estate trusts
- Government benefits: Individuals can receive social security, disability benefits and Medicare for their spouses, as well as veterans’ and military benefits
- Employee benefits: An individual can obtain his/her spouse’s health insurance. He/she can also take family leave in the case of an emergency, receive wages, workers’ compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse, and take bereavement if their spouse or spouse’s close relative passes away.
- Medical benefits: Married couples are able to visit their spouses in a hospital and are allowed to make medical decisions if the spouse becomes incapable of doing so.
- Death benefits: An individual can approve post-death examinations and make burial arrangements for his/her spouse.
- Family benefits: Married couples can file for joint adoption and receive equitable division of property and child support/visitation in the case of divorce.
- Other benefits: There are multiple discounts given to married couples (family plans on insurances, etc) and there are many legal benefits including the right to sue on behalf of your spouse and obtaining visitation rights that may be exclusive to family members (jail, etc).
(all information on marriage benefits take from this website: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/marriage-rights-benefits-30190.html)
It’s a lot, I know. Until I did my research, I never realized just how many benefits a married couple gets that many same-sex couples were often denied.
Why are people against it?
The biggest argument (and by biggest, I mean basically the only argument) against same-sex marriage is based on religion. Many Christians and Catholics believe that the Bible states that same-sex relations are against the word of God. These people are sticking true to their beliefs that these individuals are sinning by going against the word of God and being with someone of the same sex.
Now mind you, there are some non religious based arguments. Marriage is meant to bring a child into the world and some believe that same-sex couples cannot do that. Also, some individuals believe that a mother and a father is needed to properly raise a child.
What do I think?
I have always had a pretty strong view on the whole concept of same-sex relationships/marriages. I am 100% (probably more) in support of the SCOTUS decision and of same-sex marriages. And here are some reasons why.
A. I cannot imagine anyone who is in a long term committed relationship being denied the basic rights of marriage. I would never want someone to tell me that I could not make any decisions on my future husband’s health or visit him in the hospital. That is just cruel.
B. In today’s society, divorce is a common occurrence. However, many same-sex relationships have lasted for significantly longer than heterosexual marriages (do a Google search for the first couple to be married in Dallas).
Side note: You don’t see people protesting divorce or adultery, both of which are considered sins in many religions. Just saying.
C. I could argue against those disagreeing because of religious purposes for hours bringing up things like the fact that the Bible was written by humans in a time where population levels were small and homosexual relationships could not increase population and that is why it was looked down upon or the fact that most people pick and choose what to follow in the Bible but I will just step back and let those people be. They most likely will not change their views.
D. Anyone who tries to tell me that you need a mother and a father to raise a child is discounting every child who was raised by one parent, grandparents, or other caregivers. There is no longer a “typical” family home with a white picket fence, a husband, wife and 2 and a half children. I know amazing individuals who came from single parents homes who are more successful then some of the children who come from “normal” homes.
E. Finally, who are we to judge? If there really is a God up there, HE is the only one who can truly judge an individual. We should allow people to be happy and live life to the fullest and have equal rights instead of treating anyone like a second class citizen based on his/her race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, etc.
This decision is going to make serious impacts in the world but we still have a long way to go in reaching 100% equality. Will that ever happen? I don’t know. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I have faith that one day in the distant future we will be pretty darn close.
P.S I apologize if this is all over the place. I can get a little heated and start to ramble when I am passionate about something.